Under the H-2A Visa Program, US employers or US agents who meet specific regulatory requirements can bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
In this article, you will understand how the H-2A program works and why it is a great opportunity for prospective applicants.
What is the H-2A Visa Program? – An Introduction
Designed to help US agricultural firms and producers to fill farmworker employment gaps, the H-2A visa program permits the temporary employment of workers from eligible countries.
In recent years, US farmers have been experiencing a growing demand for foreign workers to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The H-2A visa program permits farmers to circumvent the lack of available domestic workers and guarantees the constant availability of capable workers.
How Does the H-2A Program Work? – Taking a Closer Look
USCIS Requirements for Visa Petitioners
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a set of specific regulatory requirements applied to the H-2A visa program.
Prospective foreign workers can apply for a visa by themselves, as a US employer must file a petition on the potential employee’s behalf. As provided by USCIS, the petitioner must be>
- A US employer
- A US agent (as described in the regulations), or
- An association of US agricultural producers named as a joint employer
To meet USCIS requirements, the employer must prove that bringing foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs is actually necessary. Hence, petitioners must:
- Present a job offer of temporary or seasonal nature
- Demonstrate that there is only a temporary need for the services of a foreign worker
- Demonstrate that there are not enough US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform these specific activities
- Prove that the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers in similar positions
With a few exceptions, the employer must obtain a temporary labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL). In most cases, an original copy of the document must accompany the H-2A visa petition submitted to USCIS.
Who Can Apply as a Worker Under the H-2A Visa Program?
Once the employer’s H-2A visa petition is approved by USCIS, prospective workers can file and submit their applications with a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.
The H-2A is a non-immigrant visa, which requires applicants to reside in their home country or outside of the United States. Applicants must also show that they have no intention of abandoning their residences to stay in the United States.
H-2A petitions may only be approved for nationals of eligible countries. The US Department of Homeland Security publishes an annual list of H-2A eligible countries in a Federal Register notice. After publication, the list is valid for one year (counting from publication).
If the prospective worker is already in the United States under lawful status, it is possible to apply for a change in status with USCIS. While the petition is pending, he or she will not be able to travel outside the United States.
Do You Need Further Guidance on the H-2A Visa Program? – Immediately Contact Jurado & Associates, P.A.
A well-versed immigration attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A. is willing to help you. Get in touch with us today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.